The feel good factor of Optimism

by | August 15, 2021

Wouldn’t it be great to be and to remain optimistic, through these tough times? But how can you practice that?

Just pushing through is not a helpful strategy. That’s basically when you’re so stressed, anxious and/or tired to do something about it, that you don’t think things through anymore. We just switch to autopilot to get things done quickly. And you’ll probably also don’t deliver your best work. Doesn’t sound appealing nor does it feel good, right?

There is another way. You don’t need to be a born optimist, but you can remind yourself of certain approaches and ways of thinking. Because you always have a choice to think and do things differently.

In his book “The secret life of the mind” Mariano Sigman, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, explains it is our sense of confidence about outcomes on the unknowable future, that divides us in optimists and pessimists. Optimists are sure they can do/achieve something and overcome risks and survive, despite setbacks and the possible evidence to the contrary they receive each and every day.

One thing an optimistic brain does/has is “selective forgetting”: An optimist starts every day with a clean slate of hope and optimism. The cyclical renewal of our hopes every day forces us to learn more about and modify our beliefs, which builds our self awareness. When we are more aware, we can manage our self and state of mind better.

We can manage therefor the impact of negative information or a negative situation. It’s not so much the capacity to value what is good, but rather the ability to ignore and forget what’s bad. It’s not about ignoring reality, its practicing about how to deal best with that reality.

So focussing and building on the good things, like practicing gratitude and setting your positive intentions and believing that everyone has best intentions. Believing that people have the best intentions helps more to have constructive conversations. Practice your curiosity on what’s happening for them.

Questions to ask could be:

  • How did they get to their conclusion, approach, advice?
  • What are they trying to achieve with that?
  • What can you learn from that?
  • And how can you collaborate and find synergy together?

Another great book to check out these topics and fill your cup with is: “Learned optimism, on how to change your mind and your life” by Martin E.P. Seligman, PH.D. He draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it.

Now why do I feel this is all so important? I really feel everyone wants to live their best life and deliver their best work. And sometimes when we’re under pressure or stress, it is hard to think clearly.

These practices and habits of optimistic people might help:

  • Expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Build it in your morning routine for 2 minutes.
  • Giving back: donating your time and energy to someone who needs it, without expecting anything in return.
  • Being interested in others and how they are keeping during tough times. Check in and really listen to what’s important for them and what’s difficult for them.
  • Surround yourself with optimistic people, watch and learn. It’s contagious to be around them and it will lift you up!
  • Don’t listen to people saying ‘no can do’. Always trust your gut and find your own way and solutions.
  • Be forgiving and compassionate to others. Not a lot of people are at their best at the moment. Provide a safe place to learn and improve.
  • Smile more. Yes, a simple act of smiling more helps lift you up and people around you. It has a calming and positive effect on your brain and
  • improves lateral thinking. And also, you probably look more attractive to talk to and listen to:)
  • And again, why is this so important? It’s scientifically proven to boost happiness and motivate you to achieve your goals. Health benefits of positive thinking and optimism include reduced stress, better psychological and physical wellbeing, and better coping skills during stressful times.

According to Seth Godin, Marketing guru and ultimate entrepreneur for the information age, Optimism is an attitude and a choice. It involves context and focus. We’re not deluding ourselves that everything is going to be okay (because thats not productive). Instead we’re committed (choosing) to finding things we can contribute to, work on and improve. And may I say, have fun during the process.

Make the time spent in lockdown the best time you’ll have: read, think, choose and decide what you focus on. That way coming up with your best approach will be far more interesting, effortless and fun!

Just writing this article for you, made me feel more positive and optimistic. I hope these tips are helpful for you. Try them out and experience the difference. And feel free to reach out if I can ever help you with the HOW.

Take one step at a time, stay safe and keep shifting👍!